Help, My Roommate’s a Vegan!

Roommates can make moving into your first apartment a more affordable endeavor. Whether longtime friends or people newer to your life, roommates can help make paying bills way easier, and if you’re prone to feeling lonely, you’ll have a friend you can easily hang out with at home. On the other hand, if you often worry too much about how other people feel, you might find certain roommate situations stressful – what if, for example, you’re a meat lover but find out your roommate is a strict vegan?

If you’re like some omnivores, you might internally freak out a bit at the prospect of living with a vegan roommate. Will your roommate get mad seeing your meat, eggs, and dairy in their fridge? Will you be subject to a lecture about why eating meat is bad every time your roommate spots you meal-prepping your week of chicken breast lunches? Will your dietary differences cause a divide between you and someone you have to see every day? Don’t fret – the vast majority of vegans will be happy to live with meat-eaters or even vegetarians (yes, vegans are different than vegetarians), as long as their roommates respect their life choices. Here are some tips to help navigate living with a vegan roommate.

First: veganism vs. vegetarianism

Before you read up on how to properly interact with a vegan roommate when you’re a meat-eater, you should understand the difference between veganism and vegetarianism. Vegans eat no animal products at all, though some eat honey (the debate on whether honey is vegan has yet to find a final answer). Vegetarians, on the other hand, eat eggs and dairy – in other words, they don’t eat meat itself, but they’ll eat other animal products. Additionally, certain vegetarians eat fish, but no other meat – these people are known as pescatarians.

Now that you understand the distinction between veganism and vegetarianism, here’s how to ensure a solid relationship with a vegan roommate.

Have a conversation

Chances are that you’ll find out your roommate is a vegan before you move in with them. When you find this out, ask them what they’d like you to do in your shared living spaces to respect their diet (you should also do this for roommates with any dietary restrictions, such as nut allergies, gluten intolerance, kosher, etc.). You can start with questions such as:

  • Do they care if you keep your animal products near their foods in your fridge and freezer?
  • Will they be okay with you cooking or eating animal products while they’re in the kitchen or other shared spaces?
  • Does their veganism include honey, gelatin, red food dye, and other products less known to come from animals?
  • Will they eat non-animal products that have come in contact with animal products?

Many, but not all, vegans will be fine with their food being near yours. Similarly, many vegans won’t take issue with you eating animal products near them. Nevertheless, you should absolutely ask these questions before moving in together to avoid any potential arguments or tension.

Know basic kitchen courtesies

Even if you and your vegan roommate agree on a pretty lax set of food rules, you could still accidentally show disregard for your roommate’s diet – many vegans have removed animal products from their diets for ethical or health-related reasons, meaning it’s not a choice they take lightly. No matter how good, or at least humorous, your intentions are, never do the following:

  • Say something along the lines of “I could never be vegan” or make comments that subtly turn your nose up at veganism
  • Offer your vegan roommate any animal products you’re cooking or eating – even if you’re trying to be kind, you’re ignoring your roommate’s diet
  • Joke that, when your roommate declines to share vegan food you offer, there’s no meat in it – your roommate likely knows this and might think you see them as stupid

What you should do when it comes to sharing food is explicitly state that it’s vegan. If you’re making white bean soup, for example, you can say to your roommate, “Hey, this soup I’m making is vegan, do you want to try some?” This way, your roommate sees you offering to share and respecting their diet.

Remember, you don’t have to be vegan, too

The vast majority of vegans will not try to force you to be vegan too. Beyond lecturing somebody on their diet, trying to impose your lifestyle on someone else is just rude. That said, if you find your roommate making off-hand remarks about your eating animal products, you might begin to feel annoyed or even angry. That’s when it’s time to return to an earlier tip: Have a conversation.

The next time your roommate makes a comment that bothers you, gently address it in the moment. You can say something like, “Hey, I don’t like that you said that, because I respect your diet, and it’s not fair for you to disrespect mine” (though you should say this in your own words). Assuming that you actually are respecting your roommate’s veganism, they should be fine with reeling in their comments. They shouldn’t have to think too hard to realize that if they keep offending you, they’ll soon live in an apartment defined by tension rather than peace.

Try eating dinner together

Simply put, your vegan roommate isn’t going to eat any animal products. The rise of the vegan movement, though, has birthed all manner of vegan alternatives to classic dishes such as scrambled eggs, burgers, and chili. Try cooking up a tofu scramble, some veggie burgers, or a big pot of vegan chili with your roommate if you’re looking to enjoy a classic dinner night while respecting their diet. Chances are that you won’t believe what you’re eating has no animal products in it – the vegan movement has led to some incredibly realistic substitutes. A simple internet search will turn up all manner of easy vegan recipes that you can try.

If you have a vegan roommate, how do you make it work? Share your tips in the comments!

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